Monuments are used to commemorate groundbreaking events, important people, and historic sites. But there aren’t too many that honor apples.
Erected in 1927 by the New York State Horticultural Society and the State of New York, this roadside boulder — located outside an artsy Valley town — praises the Jonathan apple, a local variety valued for its breeding quality and tart-yet-sweet taste.
New York’s Jonathan apple (there is another type of Jonathan grown in the Midwest) is said to have originated in 1826 on a farm located not far from where the monument now sits. The fruit, propagated from an Esopus Spitzenberg apple seedling, was originally called the “Philip Rick” or “Rickey,” after the farm’s owner. The variety was later renamed for local jurist and avid gardener Jonathan Hasbrouck, who brought it to the attention of the president of the Horticultural Society.
Although the Jonathan is great for a snack, its tough skin makes it more desirable as a cooking fruit — try it sliced in a salad, puréed into applesauce, or baked in a pie. But no matter how luscious the taste, this variety is most highly prized for its breeding qualities. Over the years, it has proven to be especially prolific, having sired several popular blends such as the Idared (mixed with the Wagener), the Jonagold (crossed with Golden Delicious), and the Jonamac (combined with McIntosh).
The Jonathan tree is notorious for its irregular crop yield, producing bushel upon bushel some seasons and nearly zilch during others. Chances are you won’t find Jonathans in your local supermarket, but they are often available at local fruit stands and farmers markets. Once you sink your pearly whites into this palatable produce, you’ll realize why this apple is so valued in the Valley.
Do you know where to find this tribute to a toothsome October treat? If you’re hungry for victory, E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first person to identify the spot wins a small prize. Check next month’s issue for the answer. And happy pickings!